Friday, December 5, 2008

"Rachel Getting Married" - spoiler movie review

I'd heard about "Rachel Getting Married" because Anne Hathaway was getting rave reviews for her performance. Good reviews in and of themselves don't necessarily matter to me, but when I looked up the subject of the movie, it did sound interesting. And while I haven't been particularly enamoured of Anne Hathaway in the past (though I did like her in "The Devil Wears Prada"), I really enjoyed her performance in "Get Smart", so I wanted to see what this film was like.

The main story of the film is about Kym, who has been an addict all her life and gets out of rehab just in time for sister Rachel's wedding. Kym is a bridesmaid but is elevated to maid of honor after she throws a fit to Rachel. And that's just the start of the troubles that Kym brings with her. But she has a guilty secret that we don't learn until later in the film - she is responsible for the death of her baby brother because she was high when she was supposed to be watching him, and her neglect caused his death, a death that no one in the family has gotten over.

This is definitely not an easy movie to watch. There are so many times where it's very uncomfortable because of how the characters react to each other and the resentments and dysfunctions that arise. One of the things that I really liked is that while addict movies have certainly been done before, most of them function almost exclusively on the addict, on how they feel being back in their normal life, about the struggles they face. While that's certainly one part of the story, it's just that - one part. This movie looks at all facets of the addict's life, including how the addict's actions have affected everyone else around them. As the story unfolds, you can see that because of Kym's addiction at an early age, the entire family's life and structure have revolved around that. They've been so focussed on dealing with her struggles and addiction that Rachel has largely been ignored because she didn't cause any problems - but Rachel is resentful that everyone coddles Kym and that Kym gets all the attention. Kym is also resentful of her mother, who she thinks should have known better, should have known about Kym's addiction and shouldn't have entrusted her with the safety of her baby brother. But her mother refuses to acknowledge any of that and is mostly detached. While it's always acknowledged that an addict's behaviour certainly affects their family, this is the first time that I've seen where we're shown first hand exactly what kind of damage it's done to each member of the family.

During the rehearsal dinner, how incredibly awkward was it when Kym, bored and annoyed that she has no one to talk to, basically moves her chair so that she's then sitting in between Rachel and her soon-to-be-husband? Kym is so used to being the center of attention, even bad attention, that she can't stand not being the center of attention, even on the occasion of her own sister's wedding.

And the scene with the physical altercation between Kym and Abby was *really* difficult to watch. Kym then drives off and deliberately into a tree. When she eventually makes it back to the house the next morning, it's Rachel, on her own wedding day, who ends up having to help Kym get ready rather than the other way around.

Anne Hathaway really does an amazing job in this film. I've not seen her do gritty, and she went all out here, oftentimes with emotions that are incredibly raw.

Rosemarie DeWitt is also very good as Rachel, who has to share her wedding day spotlight with Kym, and who goes above and beyond in being the supportive sister.

Debra Winger is also very good in a smallish role as Kym's and Rachel's detached mother, Abby. Her performance reminded me a lot of Mary Tyler Moore's mother role in "Ordinary People", though not entirely quite as severe.

The good buzz about the film seems to have been cemented by the announcement this week that the film has been nominated in multiple categories for The Spirit Awards, the sort of Oscar equivalent for independent films. The film was nominated for best picture, best director and best first screenplay, with Anne Hathaway getting a nomination in the lead category and both Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger receiving a nomination in the supporting category.

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